Valley Public Radio News

Hear local reports on the economy, government, education, health and the environment on Valley Public Radio during All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Valley Edition. 

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Business & Economy
11:23 am
Tue February 12, 2013

Fresno's Twee Boutique To Close

A downtown Fresno gift store that specializes in handmade and "indie" arts and craft products is set to close.

Store owner Melanie Davis announced that she plans to shut down retail operation on the boutique's Facebook page Tuesday morning. She says the shop will stay open through the end of March:

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Environment
9:58 am
Mon February 11, 2013

Fight Over Key Environmental Law Heats Up In Sacramento

file photo
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

 What some see as California’s most important environmental law, others see as an economic impediment. The 43-year-old California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, guides almost every development project in the state.

Governor Jerry Brown and many lawmakers say it’s time to modernize it. But As Amy Quinton reports, how to do that is a question with no easy answers.

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Environment
5:32 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

Report: More than Half of Californians Get Contaminated Drinking Water

file photo
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

More than half of California's population relies on a contaminated drinking water supply – though most communities blend or treat their water to make it safe.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento on that finding in a new state report out this week.

The report by the State Water Resources Control Board was ordered by the state Legislature.  It says from 2002 to 2010, 680 out of 3,000 community water systems in the state relied on one or more contaminated groundwater wells.  Those contaminated wells served 21 million people.

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Development Watch
4:28 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

10-Story Office Tower Gets Initial OK For Fresno's River Park

An artist's rendering of the planned 10-story tower at Highway 41 and Friant Road
Fresno City Planning Commission

Drivers along Highway 41 may soon see a major new addition to the Fresno skyline, as the city's planning commission last night approved plans for a 10-story tower at Friant Road and Highway 41. 

The 234,000 square foot office tower from Fresno developer DeWayne Zinkin is expected to cover 12 acres, and will rise to a height of 150 feet. It is planned for a site just to the east of Highway 41, and north of Friant Road.

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Gun Control
3:57 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

Senate Dems Seek to Tighten California Gun Laws

Mayors from Los Angeles and San Francisco join Democratic State Senators to call for tighter gun and ammunition laws in California at Thursday's news conference at the State Capitol.
Capital Public Radio Network

The California State Senate’s Democratic leadership is rolling out a package of 10 measures it says will help reduce gun violence.

Lawmakers want to eliminate what they call loopholes in the state’s current laws.  For example, California currently bans the sale or manufacture of ammunition magazines with more than 10 rounds.  A bill by Senator Loni Hancock would ban the possession of them as well.

“The grandfathering-in of weapons is something that our police chiefs have told us and law enforcement has told us makes it very difficult to enforce existing law,” said Hancock.

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Government & Politics
5:57 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

Governor Brown Calls Hidden Funds at CAL FIRE 'Boring Story'

California Governor Jerry Brown
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown is calling news that the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection hid funds in a nonprofit account for several years a "boring story."

As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, Republicans are criticizing what they call Brown’s casual dismissal of the news.

The discovery of  $3.5 million of unreported money at CAL FIRE didn’t get much of a response from the Democratic governor.

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Government & Politics
5:25 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

Mayor Renews Call to Add Cars Back to Fresno's Fulton Mall

A computer illustration of what Fresno's Fulton Mall might look like after the re-introduction of vehicle traffic.
Credit City of Fresno

Fresno mayor Ashley Swearengin renewed her call to open the Fulton Mall to automobile traffic at today’s annual State of Downtown Breakfast.

Swearengin told the crowd of business leaders and downtown boosters that her number one job for the next four years is to rally support for her downtown plan, which includes the first major changes to Fresno’s former main street in the last five decades.

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Government & Politics
5:20 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

California High Court Weighs Cities' Rights to Ban Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

The California Supreme Court appears poised to leave intact the right of local governments to ban medical marijuana dispensaries.  Ben Adler has more on the court’s oral arguments today  in a case involving a dispensary and the city of Riverside.

Here’s the core question for the justices in this case: Do state laws that allow the use of medical marijuana trump the long-standing powers of local governments to make their own land use and zoning decisions?  Many justices appeared skeptical.  Here’s Justice Joyce Kennard pressing the attorney representing the dispensary:

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Health
11:44 am
Tue February 5, 2013

Homegrown Doctors Value Medical Education In the Valley

Rene and Veronica Ramirez are two doctors in the Valley that are determined to bring quality healthcare to those that live in the region.
Credit Ezra Romero / Valley Public Radio

For Rene and Veronica Ramirez careers in medicine were always a dream. But with childhoods spent in rural California – Dinuba and Kerman – the couple’s desire to bring aid back to their communities seemed only to be just wishful thinking.

"I always thought I would like to be a doctor, but I didn’t know if I actually could do it," she said.

That’s Veronica Ramirez. She says her family helped her develop an interest in medicine early on.

“I’ve had medical problems in my family, my mom has epilepsy, and I have experienced that since I was very young," she said. 

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Government & Politics
9:53 am
Tue February 5, 2013

Undocumented Youth: 'We Want to Serve'

Pablo Reyes-Morales, an undocumented student at West Hills College Lemoore, wants to serve in the U.S. Navy.
Credit Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

Pablo Reyes-Morales’ dream to serve in the United States military was stoked when he was in high school.

“Since I was in ninth grade, when I saw the slogan for the Navy, and it said, “a global force for good,” I was instantly interested,” he said.

But that dream shattered when Reyes-Morales attempted to enlist. He says it wasn’t until that moment, that he learned he was undocumented, and therefore unable to serve the country.

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Pension Reform
5:36 pm
Fri February 1, 2013

Proposed Pension Exemption for Some California Union Members Prompts Debate

Dem. Asm. Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville/Salinas)
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The author of a bill that would exempt 20,000 California union members from last year’s pension overhaul is defending the measure against criticism that it breaks a promise to voters who just approved tax increases. 

Democratic Assemblyman Luis Alejo says he introduced the bill because of a conflict between the new state pension law and U.S. labor law that applies to 20,000 local and regional public transit workers.  As a result, he says, $2 billion in federal transportation funds are at risk.

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Immigration
5:22 pm
Thu January 31, 2013

California Lawmakers: "It's Time" for Federal Immigration Reform

Two dozen California lawmakers attended Thursday's news conference at the State Capitol supporting a potential immigration deal in Congress.
Credit Capital Public Radio

There appears to be significant bipartisan support in the California legislature for the proposed federal immigration overhaul under discussion in Congress.  But as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, some Republicans still have concerns.

Twenty Democrats and five Republicans stood together to say they want Congress to get something done after years of putting it off.  

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Environment
10:37 am
Thu January 31, 2013

Second Snow Survey Shows Below Normal Conditions

California’s water managers say a dry January has left water content in the Sierra snowpack below the average. (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

 

California snow surveyors reported Tuesday that water content in the state’s mountain snowpack is below average for the date. 

The manual readings this month confirmed what many water managers expected after a relatively dry January. The water content in the Sierra snow is 93 percent of average for this time of year.

Early storms in November and December dumped snow ranging from 32 ½ to 44 inches around Echo Summit. That erased the deficit in reservoir storage. But very little snow has fallen since.

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Government & Politics
11:22 am
Wed January 30, 2013

California Legislators Push For Short Sale Tax Relief

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

There’s a push in the California legislature to provide tax relief for struggling homeowners who are forced into short sales.  As Marianne Russ reports from Sacramento, the new legislation has bipartisan support.

A Democratic state Senator introduced the bill, and Republican Senator Joel Anderson has signed on as a co-author.  He says homeowners going through a short sale need help.

"Let’s not kick them when they’re down," says Anderson.

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Health Care Reform
11:08 am
Wed January 30, 2013

Bill Would Extend Medi-Cal to a Million More Californians

file photo
Credit Shellie Branco / Valley Public Radio

California lawmakers will consider new legislation designed to keep the state in sync with the federal health law. As Pauline Bartolone reports from Sacramento, the legislation is part of a special session on health care that began Monday.

Lawmakers in both houses propose bills that would add more than a million people to the state’s Medicaid program.

Assembly Speaker John Perez said his bill would allow individuals with an annual income of around $15,000 dollars to get public health insurance – and that could indirectly help other Californians, too.

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Government & Politics
10:57 am
Wed January 30, 2013

California Lawmakers Hold Hearing on Gun Violence

California lawmakers say they will seek consensus as they look for ways to reduce gun violence. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, they heard from gun rights advocates, law enforcement, and gun violence prevention experts at a joint legislative hearing.

Lawmakers had a chance to hold the kinds of guns and ammunition used in recent mass shootings. They saw how easy it can be to change a gun magazine.

"He can do it in very rapid succession…that gun today can be purchased in California," said Bureau of Firearms Chief Stephen Lindley.

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Education
12:24 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

In Fresno, School Officials Weigh Football, Student Needs

Fresno High School (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The way Fresno high school football coaches run offseason training this spring and summer will be different than in any training season prior. The reason: offseason tackling has become a major no, no.

In an attempt to decrease the number of football related injuries among Valley youngsters, mainly concussions, the Fresno Unified School District enacted a new policy last week to ban full contact during the offseason.

So what does this mean for Valley football players?

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Environment
11:05 am
Tue January 29, 2013

Valley Residents, Health Advocates Call For Better Protection From Particle Pollution

The Fresno skyline as seen through a thick cloud of pollution (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The San Joaquin Valley’s polluted air is a daily concern for Mario Talavera.

“When I go to the pharmacy, they ask why I need medicine," said Talavera, of Fresno. "For Mario, Angelica, Tomas, Jose. And for me too, Mario. I have asthma. The only person who doesn’t have asthma is my wife.”

It’s a constant stress for Fresno resident Teresa Vidales, too. Her husband, a construction worker and the family breadwinner, has asthma. One of her four kids does, too.

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Government & Politics
1:06 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

Brown's Attempted Balancing Act Earns Bipartisan Praise, Criticism

Governor Jerry Brown delivered his annual State of the State speech in Sacramento on Thursday
Andrew Nixon Capital Public Radio

He quoted Franklin Roosevelt and William Butler Yeats.  And he told the stories of Pharaoh and Joseph and the “Little Engine that Could.”  Governor Jerry Brown turned to every trick in his book Thursday to push an ambitious agenda in his State of the State address – all while urging fiscal discipline from the Democratic-controlled legislature.  We have two reports today from Ben Adler and from Amy Quinton.

Ben Adler on Governor Brown's speech:

The governor packed his speech with references from the biblical …

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Environment
11:00 am
Fri January 25, 2013

Brown Touts Delta Tunnel Plan in State of the State Speech

California Governor Jerry Brown called for renewed support for his Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta tunnel plan
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Governor Jerry Brown reiterated his pitch to shore up California’s water supply in his State of the State address Thursday.  But Brown’s proposal to spend $14 billion dollars on water received no response from lawmakers during a packed joint session.

As KPCC’s Julie Small reports, his message is really for consumers—and the agencies that supply water to them.

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